The corporal works of mercy are those actions that the Church calls on us to perform towards the welfare of the physical person. One of the seven corporal works of mercy is to visit the imprisoned. This month of February, the Pope's universal intention, that is to say the intention that the Pope asks all of us to remember in our prayers, is for prisoners, "That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity."
Those who are incarcerated are human beings with the dignity and worth inherent in every person, each made in the image and likeness of God. Prison ministries bring the mercy of God to those who have fallen into crime, and offer them an invitation to conversion and reparation. They offer friendship to isolated and vulnerable human beings, and lend that helping hand so necessary in rebuilding lives once they are released. Not everyone can physically visit the imprisoned, but we can lend our charitable support and our prayers. One of the first conscious acts of mercy towards the imprisoned that St. Therese, the "Little Flower" committed at the young age of thirteen, was to pray and offer sacrifices for the Confession of a murderer. St. Therese learned that the man had lifted his head from the guillotine to kiss the Crucifix three times before his execution, and she believed her offerings contributed to his final repentance.
Not all who are imprisoned are rightly accused. There is a priest, Fr. Gordon MacRae, who has remained in a New Hampshire prison for over twenty years, unjustly accused and unwilling to agree to false "plea bargains" requiring him to admit to guilt that is not his. His story has been told nationally and he writes a blog entitled "These Stone Walls; Musings from Prison of a Priest Falsely Accused." http://thesestonewalls.com/
In a recent post, Fr. MacRae quotes Pope Francis as saying, "I once read that priests are like airplanes. They only make news when they crash, but there are many that fly." As we join our prayers with the Pope's for his universal intention for prisoners, let us remember also those who are unjustly imprisoned, especially priests such as Fr. MacRae.
February 15, 2015
While Our Lady appeared at Lourdes to St. Bernadette Soubirous over one hundred fifty years ago, her message and her miracles resonate still. The untold numbers of miraculous healings related to Lourdes have led to the February 11 feast of Our Lady of Lourdes being proclaimed World Day of the Sick in 1992 by then Pope Saint John Paul II. On this date each year, the Church calls us to pray in a special way for those suffering illness as well as for their caregivers. Pope Francis exhorts us this year to enter into the "wisdom of the heart," a gift of God which allows us find salvation in our sufferings and to make of ourselves a gift in the mission of the Church towards those who suffer.
Lent. Ashes on Ash Wednesday, abstinence from meat on Fridays, fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, sacrificing, praying, giving alms. Does that cover it? What does Lent mean to you? Pope Francis calls it a "time of grace" (2 Cor 6:2). In his Message for Lent 2015, he examines the ways that Lent can be a time of renewal for the whole Church, for the smaller communities of parishes, and for each individual. Our world is sorely in need of renewal and we are each given a part to play in bringing about that change. That does not mean to look for something to give up that will help you reach your weight loss goal. The sacrifice called for in Lent is one of self-mortification, a way to discipline ourselves, to put to death those habits or obsessions that call us away from God and our neighbor.
Does God guide you by your dreams? One can find a plethora of books on interpreting dreams. A quick search on Barnes and Noble website provided almost three thousand choices! They can range from serious psychological works to the truly bizarre, best left untouched. While it is not wise to go searching too much for meanings to your dreams by which to live your life, we do know that God has often used dreams to speak to people, or to reveal Himself to them. By taking
a conservative approach, one can pay attention to what God might reveal to us in our dreams. It is best to leave interpretation and any idea of prophecy of dreams to those specially disposed to receive such extraordinary promptings, under the scrutiny of Church authorities. Proper discernment is also necessary. A true mystic will be known by profound humility, only sharing their extraordinary experiences reluctantly, under obedience.